mad Okay, girlfriends, check this out. Madonna just turned 50, she has all the money in the world, nobody works harder at being fit, looking good, and having a few nips and tucks along the way to stave off Father Time. Well, she looks like hell. There is no stopping that clock, I don’t care who you are. She obviously hasn’t had a dresser, or a stylist or a makeup artist in this picture, and she looks like, duh, a fifty year old, borderline anorexic woman who has pumped too much iron with her mannish biceps
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My friends and I just smile when we see all of these 30 somethings exercising their still cute little bodies. They say they will just have work done to stop the aging process. We just smile, and say to ourselves, sure you will, honey. Been there, done that!!! Well, not the "work" but once upon a time we, too, thought we wouldn't ever look old.

If this woman, with her badzillions of dollars and her obsessive determination to stay young can’t stop the aging process, the rest of us don’t stand a chance.

She needs to eat a good meal, cut that hair, quit with the sexy videos and act her age….

Meowwww, could I have a saucer for my milk, puhleez…

Since I’m just back from Music City, I have news… First of all, let me tell you that the Franklin/Brentwood shops are positively full of skinny 50+ be-otches with great haircuts and trendy clothes. You don’t see a lot of fatties, girlfriends. It was positively DEPRESSING!!!!

John works with a girl, her sister booked Faith Hill’s 40th birthday party last year, it was in Europe and they spent, are you ready for this, a million bucks on it. Egads… Now Faith and Tim are renting a villa in Italy, and this same woman is there, also…

And, we were in Hobby Lobby yesterday, just missed Naomi Judd by thirty minutes. Yep, she was shopping the Lobby, and rang up the grand total of $700.00 for her purchases. Oh, those shopgirls do love to gossip…

As all of you know, Little Merry Sunshine here blogs nonsense 99% of the time. We all have problems in our lives, but this site is a happy place, and I’m a positive person, so I normally don’t blog about the rainy days just the bright ones. But I have a story to tell you, and hopefully, if I can help just one person who is getting ready to bring a Yorkie into their home, it will be worth it.

If you are a regular reader, you know how besotted I am with the M&M’s, and you all know about Maggie’s bladder surgery last month. What I didn’t tell you is that when her stone was analyzed, it came back composed of ammonium urate, which is not good, my friends, and follow-up bile acid tests supported the vet’s theory that Maggie had liver shunt, a potentially fatal illness that happens in small breeds, mostly Yorkies, but it can affect other breeds, such as dashunds, maltese, poodles and schnauzers to name a few.

Thanks to the amazing people in the Yorkie forums on the internet, they directed me to Dr. Karen Tobias, a veterinarian in the teaching school of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Dr. Tobias has a phenomenal reputation and is is recognized as being the very best in the country for performing surgery on dogs with liver shunt. People bring their dogs from all over the United States for her to perform surgery on them, and I feel very fortunate that we live within driving distance of UT.

Liver shunt can be a congenital disease, or it is possible for it to happen later in life. There is a portal artery that goes thru the liver, and then feeds into the heart, and after a dog eats, the blood goes through the liver in this artery and the blood is cleansed before it goes to the heart. But in Maggie’s case, that portal artery was outside the liver when she was born, so the blood was bypassing the liver and going around it instead of through it, and protein, specifically animal protein is not broken down and it poisons her system, making her appear lethargic and glassy eyed. In dogs where it is more severe, some of the symptoms are banging their heads, walking in circles, salivating and refusing to eat.

Maggie didn’t really have symptoms, except for being lethargic, but she had reoccuring urinary tract infections which pointed to a bladder stone, and even though she was a good eater, she was a very lean little dog, she didn’t gain weight, which is also indicative of liver shunt.

Of course,after finding all of this out, I was totally devastated, I had my vet, Dr. Wagner, get in contact with Dr. Tobias, and I made an appointment for Maggie to go to UT for consultation and hopefully, surgery on July 22nd. We left Monday afternoon, stayed with our son, John in Franklin, Tn. and met with Dr. Tobias on Tuesday, the 22nd. They did a scintigraphy on Maggie Tuesday afternoon, which injects a radioactive dye into her bloodstream to see if she has a shunt around her liver and sure enough, the test came back positive.

Dr. Tobias operated on Maggie Wednesday morning, the portal vein was all the way up and around her larynx, Dr. Tobias told me it was in a really “funky spot” but she was successfully able to put an ameroid constrictor around the vein. A constrictor is a small stainless steel ring that slows the blood flow in that vein, forcing some of the blood to go through smaller veins, which the Dr. explained were like small little cobblestone streets, inside her liver. The constricted vein, will hopefully, scar on the inside to the point that it completely closes, forcing the blood to go through these veins in her liver, and Maggie will be a normal dog. This is successful in 85% of all of her surgeries, so Maggie has good odds. We will know within six months if it worked by repeating bile acid testing. We’ll actually do a bile acid test in three months, and if we’re lucky, her numbers will be closer to normal and we will know then that it’s working.

We spent the week with John, had a wonderful time, and I was able to relax after Maggie came thru surgery. UT veterinary students intern in the small animal clinic, Maggie was lucky enough fto have a great student assigned to her case. Holly is a 4th year veterinary student, due to graduate next year, she assisted Dr. Tobias with the surgery, and was Maggie’s primary caregiver. She not only did a superb job of taking care of my Mags, she gave her lots of cuddles as well, and called me with updates twice a day to tell me how she was doing. Holly is going to be a great vet! I think women vets are just the best! They are so nurturing, so compassionate and they really care about their patients, not only clinically, but emotionally, too!

We picked her up yesterday afternoon, she’s off of her pain meds, has a mother of a scar on her tummy, five inches long, but she’s alert, eating well, and happy to be home. She’ll be on prescription LD dog food for the next three months, no animal protein, and if the surgery is successful she will return to a regular diet.

The picture at the top left of this column of Maggie was taken forty-eight hours post-op, she was just home from the hospital and resting on John's soft, fuzzy throw. I'm happy to report that she is much improved since this picture was taken.

So that was my week, it was a bit rocky, but things seem to be going very well, and of course I’m eternally grateful to the staff at UT for taking such wonderful care of my little fur child.

So it’s back to nonsense for me, but I will be posting a link on my site with links to information on liver shunt. If you are looking to buy a small breed pup, I would strongly advise that you insist the breeder have a bile acid test performed on your dog before you purchase it. They will be able to tell from this test if the dog is liver compromised. Breeders don’t normally run these tests, because it is an additional out of pocket expense for them, but this can happen in any bloodline. Maggie came from a reputable breeder, and we still had a problem.

So life is good for me, this sunny Saturday morning, I’m going to take my fur kids and go back to bed for a nap…
~ jan

If you would like to learn more about liver shunt, you can link to some information from Dr. Tobias here…
If you're like me, you go thru your life, taking your days for granted, but then, occasionally, events happen that are out of your control and your days are no longer ordinary.  I know this makes no sense to a lot of you, and I'll update you this weekend. 

I'm sitting on the sofa as I type this entry, Mollie is asleep on my chest and I'm counting my blessings.  It's a busy time for me right now, but everything is good in my life, tonight, this balmy Wednesday evening in July...
I did, yesterday. John brought me a container of corn to try that someone from work had made. And since he's a Southern boy now, so was this dish.

It was simple, fresh corn, cut and scraped off the cob, fried in bacon grease.

Oh my, one taste, and I was ten years old again, sitting in Aunt Idalene's kitchen eating fried corn that tasted exactly like what he shared with me... It took me back in time, instantly - I haven't tasted corn like that since childhood. The years just fell away, and I was, for a split second, that little girl again... I was actually emotional at the vividness of it all...

Memories....

Here are my pinto beans, after an hour in the pressure cooker. I used my chopper for the veggies, green peppers, onion, celery and several cloves of garlic, a can of petite diced tomatoes, and water, a total of eight cups of liquid, salt, fresh ground pepper, and some ham seasoning in a jar. No fat, healthy, and positively wonderful. Fresh tomatoes out of the garden, sprinkled with a little balsamic vinegar, peppers, fresh basil, all consumed, where else, in front of my computer screen. Hubby is working, it’s going to be 96 degrees in Heavensville today, works for me eating at the computer desk…

beans

Some of these things I’ve told you about before, but since I have a lot of newbies to the site, they’re worth a repeat.  Or, if you’re like me, you read about them and forgot them….Wolfgang Puck 7qt 4-in-1  Pressure Cooker So if you’ve seen these before, just ignore this post.
I’m loving my Wolfgang Puck  Electric Pressure Cooker.  I bought it on HSN after Hooterville gave me a heads up that it was on introductory sale one Sunday for $119.00.  It’s a 7 quart, the size is great.  I bought Ry a Cuisinart 6 quart last year for his birthday, but it’s a bit small  This one is wonderful, I use it several times a week, I have dried pinto beans cooking it in this morning. My fresh green beans that I normally cook on the stove for a couple of hours only took me ten minutes after it reached pressure, and that was with new potatoes mixed in the pot.  Even though it’s a bit more expensive now, it’s still well worth the price.  This isn’t your mama’s pressure cooker, girlfriends, you set it and forget it, and don’t have to worry about it exploding!  You can check it out here…
I’ve blogged about this KitchenAid Garlic Press before.  I liked it so mucKitchenAid Garlic Pressh I bought it for the kids, I got one for Hooterville, too and she will also tell you that it’s the best garlic press EV-ER.  If you’re like me you’ve bought several over the years, none of them ever really work, but this one is a powerhouse and it completely pulverizes the garlic cloves.
This exact style is hard to find, but you can buy it on Amazon.  But then you can buy pretty much anything on Amazon.  Here’s the click if you’re interested.

Vegetable Choppers
This chopper from Williams-Sonoma is the hands down BEST thing I’ve bought in years.  Actually, it’s my second generation, I bought an earlier model, but they updated it and I bought this one.  I’ve told all of you about this several times, and if you haven’t bought one, do yourself a favor and order it.
They have an even newer model available now, Ryan bought it and brought it to show me on his last visit home.  While it’s a super one, I still think I like this one best.  Here’s the Click for my model, and if you want to see the one he bought, you can access it HERE.

And since it’s summer, I’m going to talk about ice cream makers.  Three years or so ago
Cuisinart Supreme Ice Cream Maker
I decided that I needed the Cuisinart ice cream machine, the one with the built in compressor.  I seldom use it, the family teases me relentlessly about it, and was it a waste of money, or is the family wrong????


Well, first of all, the family is seldom wrong, and I must admit, it was an oops.  It cost way too much money for the use I get out of it.  I should have just bought this snazzy little red model for a fraction of what I paid for the super duper one.  But it’s sitting on my shelf in the garage, it’s there when the ice cream urge strikes…

Red Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker (1.5-qt.) by Cuisinart
Cooking.com has this red one on sale right now for $50.00 – what a deal, and it looks great.  I just love anything red in the kitchen.Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments
If you already have a ice cream machine and you want to try a new cookbook, The Perfect Scoop is an awesome ice cream book.
Here’s the link to it on Amazon.  It’s the best homemade ice cream book I’ve found.

And finally, I have two more absolutely wonderful “keep the kitchen cool” things for you.  Both I’ve talked about before, so if you’ve heard me rave about these, just ignore this, but perhaps some of you are in the market for new equipment this summer, and it helps to know what works for people, and of course, what doesn’t work.  Both of these are spendy, but good kitchen equipment IS spendy, and it’s well worth the investment because you have it for years.  I probably don’t spend any more on kitchen equipment than some of you spend on outfits with accessories.  It’s whatever floats your boat and I adore gadgets….

So firCuisinart TOB-195 Convection Toaster Oven, Stainless Steelst, this is my Cuisinart Convection Toaster Oven.  I got this a couple of years ago, and I was never a fan of toaster ovens, but then the only ones I had owned were the run of the mill ones that didn’t work very well.  Well, I have used this practically daily since I got it.  It only takes 2-3 minutes to come to temperature, it bakes to perfection, it’s roomy inside, the convection is super and best of all, it doesn’t heat up the kitchen.
You can check it out HERE if you’re interested.  I think this stainless model runs a bit more, you can get it in white or black for less.

And last, but not least is this All-Clad Deluxe Slow Cooker from Williams-Sonoma.  I adore slow-cookers, and I’ve had many through the years.  This one I didn’t buy, Ryan and Lindsay got it for me last year for Christmas.  Oh my, it’s wonderful.  The teflon liner is removable and you can bring everything to boil or brown in it on top of your stove, and the food cooks so much better than the other model’s I’ve had.  No hot spots, nothing dries out – it’s a good thing…  But actually, my very favorite slow-cooker is long gone now, but it had a ceramic divided insert.  It didn’t cook nearly as well as this one does, but I loved the idea of being able to cook two things in it at once…  It was really nifty…  You just can’t beat a slow-cooker in the summer though for keeping your kitchen cool.
All-Clad Deluxe Slow Cooker
I have tons more of my favorite kitchen things, including my beloved Zojurushi Bread Machine that’s in retirement right now because I’m trying to cut the carbs, and have el zippo willpower with homemade bread. I’m the gadget queen, but even I’m not as obsessed as Ryan is.  Oh that son of mine has every kitchen gadget there is.  He’s totally mezmerized by kitchen equipment.

So that’s my summer kitchen reviews.  I do this periodically as I like to share my “finds.”  I’ll be back with more this fall, I’m sure….